London - What difference a year makes. Roundly criticised by fans and owners alike for some turgid performances last season, West Ham United host champions Manchester City on Saturday with a new attacking style instilling new-found belief at Upton Park.
Often regarded as a mid-table team stuck in first gear with the handbrake on, West Ham have ripped the shackles off this season with a free-flowing style that has lifted them to fourth in the Premier League table with 13 points from eight games.
The arrivals of Ecuador's World Cup striker Enter Valencia and Senegal's Diafra Sakho, who has scored six goals in his last six matches, have added potency to the West Ham attack and eased the burden placed upon injured striker Andy Carroll.
Such is the feelgood factor that has engulfed the east London side, manager Sam Allardyce, who was booed by some fans last season, can take particular delight with the squad he has assembled.
"It looks like being the best side since I've been here and the big bonus is the new players hitting the ground running," Allardyce, who took charge of West Ham in 2011, told a news conference on Thursday.
"The rest of the team has been lifted by that increase in quality and energy and we've got over some injury problems too.
"We've scored 15 goals in our first eight games and our total last year was 40. It shows what goalscorers can do."
Second-placed City, who trail leaders Chelsea by five points after eight matches, will provide the Hammers with a stern examination after beating them on four occasions last season.
Two of those games were in the two-legged Capital One (League) Cup semi-final which City won 9-0 on aggregate and City also clinched the league title with a 2-0 win over West Ham on the final day of the season.
Sergio Aguero scored all four of City's goals in the 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, but with Manuel Pellegrini's side returning from their ultimately disappointing 2-2 draw at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday, Allardyce is confident of causing an upset.
West Ham have not beaten City in their last 10 matches since a 1-0 league win over them at Upton Park in March 2009.
"We've got a different team to when we played Man City last season," Allardyce said.
"They're a fabulous side but if we're going to challenge them at any time this season this might be it, coming off a Champions League game.
"If we can keep their superb attacking force quiet we'll then have to see if we can exploit any weaknesses."